impotent

to write
is to cast different bait
into the same unstocked pond
again and again and again and again
with hopes to pull up some new thing
some great unknown monstrous beast
to fight and struggle upon one’s shore

and kill it

that it may be mounted on the wall
for all to see with awe and admiration
at the prowess of the great hunter
whose trophies hide an impotent heart

a shadow cast

i wear my forebears on my sleeve
as a known,
as an unknown history
i would run toward,
but it left
or it was never there,
it depends on where you look.

i am evidence of survival,
best not to take that lightly;
were they the fittest?
were they the luckiest?
maybe…
maybe not…but I’m here,
I’m now…
a shadow cast
by the light of the past
stretching off to a fine line.

Leadership & Organizational Natural Disasters

This is a tough one. Most organizations, at some point (or points) during their existance, face disasters of one sort or another.

Now I am using the analogy of natural disasters because it’s the best I can think of right now but there are likely better. Natural disasters are events that tear through a community and often weaken or completely destroy the infrastructure and the people within.

They can be earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, floods and more…sometimes multiple. They can be as a result of human effort or seemingly random or a little of both.

In organizations these things can happen too although we are not, in this instance, talking about literal natural disasters.

There are times when organizations suffer from an implosion of sorts. A kind of perfect storm of events that leads to complete chaos.

The corporate founder and CEO is forced out by the board of directors for instance. This happened at a software company I worked at. What followed was a brutal slide to an acquisition of assets and an ultimate closure of the company. It did not have to happen that way but, in the resulting chaos and leadership vacuum some saw an opportunity and steered the ship in that direction.

Sometimes organizations see a rapid departure of key staff and leadership leaving the aforementioned vacuum and a shocked, numb staff who are left behind to pick up the pieces or transform the organization into a scene from Lord of the Flies.

The thing is, nature abhors a vacuum. In organizations people (the right ones and the wrong ones) will fill that leadership vacuum whether manager chooses to hire replacements or not. In fact the longer it takes for management to act the more likely these situational leaders will become entrenched and thus the damage lasts longer.

One key to surviving an organizational natural disaster is how you choose to look at it. If you approach it from a pessimistic perspective than you will likely sail the ship towards a grave seeing death as the only possible outcome.

There is another perspective however, one I think is better for everyone. Sometimes a natural disaster is nature’s way of rebooting. Forests go through this cycle. Overtime old, dry, dead wood builds up on the forest floor. Growth becomes stunted and the forest begins to stagnate. A wildfire clears away all of this and a new, vibrant forest grows up from the ashes of the old.

The same can be said for organizations. Sometimes you need to use these disasters as an opportunity to reboot and rebuild fresh from the ashes of the old. Clear away the deadwood of the past and take the opportunity to re-structure, re-vision and renew.

It should be said these moments are also opportunity for staff to re-evaluate their own passions and priorities. Statistically when there is a major shift in leadership in organizations up to 25 percent of people/staff will choose this as an opportunity to leave and pursue other options.

Leadership (whoever is left, often the board) needs to place a strong, calm hand on the wheel and reassure staff that all will be ok. It is a time to re-consider the vision of the organization or re-affirm it and make sure remaining staff know they are critical and being listened to during this time.

Most importantly leadership needs to proclaim loud and clear that the goal is to come out of this circumstance stronger than ever.

While these times can be difficult they do not have to be the end of the world but rather, they can be the beginning of a new one.

 

Look, my love, and see how things are
On the nature of two who become one star –
Verdant growth or a withering dark,
Each a choice that makes its mark.

Gather yourselves in bright places,
Resting in the sun and moon’s embraces,
Or beneath the reverent stars at night
With hands entwined and hearts held tight
So others yearn at such a sight.

 

  • for M…my great Pearl.

poor devil

i met the devil once
laying prostrate
by the side of the old railway
that used to move grain
in cars now set in fields
rusty and ablaze with
the most beautiful graffiti

and i said

“hey ol’ Satan man
why you down and cryin
on the cold hard ground
when there’s trouble to be making
the whole world round?”

and he just looked up
from his ashen scorched place
in gravel along the steel and ties
and spoke in his sad, parched way

“what use, oh my, oh me,
what use is is a devil like the one you see
when the evil you and your kind spin
o’erwhelms the mountains
when the horror you and your kind spin
burn away the clear and blue sea
what use, oh my, oh me,
for me, for me?”

and i tried to cheer him with a lent hand
and maybe the shade of a branch
pulled from yonder silvery birch stand
but he would none of it take, and stood
and with one last heaving cry
he clippity-clopped and ran
trailing flaming tears and small hoof prints
burnt into the wild and grabbing earth

“here now,” i shouted after him,
“here now, there’s a poor devil you
that cannot out-evil my kith and kin;
there’s a sad goat-soul that cannot
find even a small bless-ed hate to let in”